Reflection (a5)

Link: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/2007-08-19-life_N.htm

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New info:

  •  Scientists are now manipulating life to the extent of creation. They are changing the genetic identity of bacterium, creating completely new bacteria, and trying to create life out of chemicals. This may mean new energy sources and life-saving medicines, which will benefit the word immensely.
  • The possibility that machines can be considered alive. Kurzweil, a renowned futurist, believes that machines will continue to be developed to the point that they can reproduce, evolve or gain artificial intelligence.
  • There is a worry that these scientists, by tinkering with nature or “playing God”, will bring about unintended consequences (look to Terminator and Alien for some examples). But some of them think “playing God” will benefit the world as long as it is done responsibly.

 

What’s Interesting:

  • I’ve heard of cloning and GM food, but creating artificial life? Now that’s a first.
  • What will this “playing God” bring? It has led to disaster in Terminator and Alien, and I’m sure the world doesn’t need to be obliterated by self-aware robots and parasitic aliens. There are bound to be some scientists who are irresponsible when tinkering with nature. So will it benefit the world or bring unintended consequences?

 Definition of life: 

  • I think that life cannot be defined, because there is an infinite number of possibilities to it. At best, we can only define life on Earth, but still in general terms, because every definition can be opposed. (There are always exceptions in Science)
  • Therefore, when looking for life on other planets, I think we can only discover those with similar characteristics to life on Earth as we have no idea what other kinds of life there might be.

 

My opinion:

Bedau said there are legitimate worries about creating life that could “run amok,” but there are ways of addressing it, and it will be a very long time before that is a problem.

“When these things are created, they’re going to be so weak, it’ll be a huge achievement if you can keep them alive for an hour in the lab,” he said. “But them getting out and taking over, never in our imagination could this happen.”’

After reading these paragraphs, I am seriously worried. This attitude is based on many assumptions. How can the scientists be so sure these new organisms are going to be weak? Although the creation of these new life forms may benefit the world, they also have the potential to cause harm. I hope these scientists “play God” responsibly and take precautionary measures.

 

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